In one direction the inky depths of space stretched off to infinity, and in the other direction a blue, green and white sphere circled its life giving Sun. They were massive extremes in every sense of the word, each holding a beauty of its own.

The Vela satellite #6911 cared nothing of its location, its job was to sit at 73,000 miles high and constantly monitor the planet beneath it searching for the distinctive double flash that indicates a nuclear explosion.

The equipment was over 2 years past it’s design life, but budgetary constraints within the military had meant that the information that this and is sister satellites provided was still sought after by those at the highest levels of military decision making. Unbeknownst to the team of people that looked after and monitored these satellites a design flaw in their construction meant that under certain circumstances the instruments would register an explosion even if one had not existed.

On the 22nd September those circumstances would occur. Vela 6911 was watching an area of the Indian Ocean, over the Coizet Islands when the two solid state bhangmeter sensors detected what it thought was the double flash of a nuclear explosion. Another Vela satellite nearby verified the same detonation and that was when all panic broke loose, communications soon reached the President who considered that a nuclear strike was in progress against the United States and so ordered the launch of his countries ICBMs. The Russians using their own detection arrays saw the launch of over 1000 missiles from the continental United States and its allies and therefore launched its own arsenal at various targets throughout the world, the MAD doctrine was now an unstoppable event.

73,000 miles above the Earths surface the emotionless Vela satellites looked down at the planet, had the cameras been able to see them, the exchange of over 2000 nuclear missiles with over 6000 warheads would have looked like aircraft contrails high in the sky.

45 minutes earlier, back on the Earths surface Joel Lenghtorn and John Freeman were monitoring the wind speeds of a tropical storm from within their small bunker, There was an electric feel in the area and the smell of Ozone was all around. Suddenly a large boom shook the ground, so much so that cups and small items on a table close by fell to the floor, less than a second later a second strike of lightning hit a little further away.

Joel and John both flinched from the 2 lightning bolts that had hit the ground.
“Wow” Joel said, barely containing the excitement in his voice. “did you see that double flash”
John was just grinning from ear to ear which was confirmation enough.


In 1979, over the Indian Ocean a Vela Series Satellite detected what it thought to be the double flash detonation of a nuclear weapon, subsequent investigation was inconclusive. But it was an interesting article over at Wikipedia that lead me to write it.

Did you get anything from this or was it a bit meh for you?



4 thoughts on “THE VELA INCIDENT

      1. It is probably quite scary how sweaty palmed and almost trigger happy those super powers may have been (may still be) The world is a place that seems to be going to shit at the moment.

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